It Works Great. Until It Doesn’t.

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Over the past months I have been regaling you, my loyal reader, with tales from the rails as I find myself commuting several days a week on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, colloquially known as BART.

I study timetables like a monk, leap tall staircases like a superhero and have learned which seats face forward for the ride (good) instead of backward (nausea).

I got this. I so got this. I am a commuter! And I have to say that for all the complaints and issues and bad press BART takes, they really do run a pretty efficient system.

Well. Most of the time.

Today was one of those outlier days.

Seems the San Francisco Police Department was alerted to a suspicious package at the Powell street station and thus all BART trains were brought to a rapid halt.

Not so much rapid transit as rapid sit there and wait.

I was further down the peninsula when this closure came down, so we sat at one station for about ten minutes. Then we advanced to the next station and waited about fifteen minutes. Then we moved on to the next.

I thought “ok, they are just slowing traffic. No problem.”

Nope. At the 24th street station they announced “This train is now out of service, all passengers must exit the train.” No warning. No lead up to the bad news. Just “get off!”

What? I say again….WHAT?!?!

So there I was about halfway through my ride standing on the platform in a so-so neighborhood of San Francisco wondering what in the sam hell I was going to do.

I considered taking a cab to a farther station along the line, but since no trains were being allowed through the onel station, there was really no advantage to this.

So I waited.

And waited.

Finally they said that trains were being allowed through the station but not stopping.

Fine.

A train came along directly that was already full of people trying to make the morning commute (they weren’t thrown off of their train!).

All of us orphaned commuters tried to shove onto that train but it just wasn’t working. Curse words were shouted. Bodies were smashed up against each other. I briefly thought that we needed Japanese-style commuter train pushers.

Me? I balked. I stood back from the fray.

Then I got smart. I turned away from the crowd and walked all the way to the end of the platform. When the next train arrived, there was hardly anyone waiting to get onto the first car and I slipped onboard.

All in, I was only about half hour later to work than I’d intended, so I can’t really complain.

But I’m gonna anyway. Ok, maybe not too much. In hindsight, throwing us all off the train seems like a bad idea. I think they took the train out of service in order to try to make up schedule time.

And the yo-yo who left the shoebox with blinking lights and wires isn’t BART’s fault.

But. Just. GRRRRR!






Image from SFGate.com.




Doeth I Offend?

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Today, the next in my continuing series of Life on the Rails.

So this morning I found myself again at my local BART station. I was there earlier than usual as I had an early meeting at work.

Instead of my usual way, way too early departure time, this was “who the hell are you kidding with this darkness” kind of early.

I am NOT a morning person. Back in college, my best friend used to say, “Can you hear that shush-shush-shush behind me? That’s because I’m dragging ass.”

Yeah, it was that kind of morning.

So I dragged my tired legs up the stairs and through the ticket gates and back down the stairs to the platform and a reasonably sane looking guy (I say “reasonably sane” because sanity is all relative on public transportation) said to me, “Does this train go to San Francisco?” and I said yes.

He nodded and we stepped onto the train. I sat, he sat and we found ourselves facing each other. No matter, BART likes to play it fast and loose with the direction of the seats.

So we started rolling. Off we go. I got out my phone to listen to music and a book. I’m currently trying to read “Great Gatsby” again and making a poor go of it. I remember really liking it the last time I read it. Which would be high school. Anyhoo…

As the train not-so-gently rocked out of the station, I saw the reasonably sane guy eyeing me real weird. I glanced at him and smiled, trying to see what was going on. I surreptitiously touched my nose to see if any bats had escaped the cave, but it seemed clean. I looked at my shirt to see if I was wearing breakfast, no it was clean.

But the guy kept staring at me like he was mildly horrified. So I did what one should do in these situations on public transit: I ignored him.

At the next stop, the guy jumped up and moved about five rows away.

Four days into my new commute and I’ve already skeeved someone out. That must be some kind of record.

So then a couple stops later, another person got on the train and sat in the seat the last guy vacated. She seemed like a nice lady, if a bit Northern California granola. She also lasted just one stop with me before moving.

Four days into my new commute and I’ve skeeved out TWO people. I’m now a demi-god.

I texted The Good Man to see if he’d noticed I was giving off an aroma this morning and he confirmed that while maybe not fresh as a daisy (who has time to shower at 5am? Not me) I also wasn’t way stinky.

Well I have no idea what this is all about but I’m going to have to experiment with my new found power to repel. If only my powers could work on those I WANT to repel, that would really be worth something.






Image from Encyclopedia Britannica Blog.



A View From The Inside

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What follows is a real, true-to-life account of an interaction between The Good Man and I. This occurred last Friday while we were in the car driving northbound on highway 280. We were on our way to a celebration dinner with family.

I was feeling rather glum, not unusual at the holidays, and we had been listening to whatever holiday music was playing on the radio.

The station had chosen that hour to do all down beat music. This made me sigh with more glum-ness.

“Here,” said The Good Man, “I have an idea.” He dug around in the cubby of his car and produced a mix CD and popped it into the player. “If disco doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.”

And indeed, the up tempo disco beat was helping my mood.

Then the song “Boogie Nights” came on.

Because he is The Good Man, and as my spouse I can (and do) share almost everything with him, I decided it was ok to ask a question that has plagued me since I was just a young child. You see, I am old enough to remember when the song “Boogie Nights” was fresh and new and played all over the radio.

I loved the song even then and used to roller skate and shake my seven year old booty to the musings of the band Heatwave.

And so came my question.

“You know, I’ve always wondered what, exactly, is a Boogie Get Down?”

“Excuse me?” The Good Man responded.

“You know, the chorus, “dance with the Boogie Get Down cuz Boogie Nights are always the best in town”? What is the Boogie Get Down? Is that a dance? Is that a place? Is that a state of mind?”

The Good Man is much more worldly than me and I figured if anyone knew, he would.

This is when The Good Man gave me a head tilted “hmm?” look, much like a confused dog.

I continued, “Look, ever since I was a kid this has bugged me. Do you know what a Boogie Get Down is?”

He replied, “It’s an imperative, not a proper noun.”

“What?”

“It’s an imperative. Dance with the boogie! Then go ahead and get down. It’s not a proper noun.”

Now I gave him the dog tilt head.

“There is a pause in there that I don’t think you are taking into account,” he said, trying again.

“Wait, you mean there is a comma in there? Dance with the Boogie comma get down?”

“Yes. Exactly.”

“But the way they phrase it you don’t hear it. Since Boogie Get Down comes after a the, it would imply a noun. I just assumed the whole thing was a noun because they don’t give you a pause which would indicate a comma exists in the lyrics. You can see my confusion.”

“They are musicians and are playing with phrasing and time signatures. Like jazz. You know.”

“Hmph. I see.”

We were both quiet for a while as the rain spattered the windshield and the song continued on.

I noticed my husband had a slight smile on his face. I turned to him and said, “I’ve ruined the song for you now, haven’t I?”

“Pretty much.”

Might I close the scene by saying this is what it’s like to live with me every day. The Good Man should receiving his Living Saint designation anytime now.







Image by Zerpx2k and found on Deviant Art and used here under the terms of a Creative Commons attribution license.




Requiem for a Little Thing

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The Good Man cautioned me about posting this because it’s very squishy and quite soppy and over the top melancholy. He warned me that I am opening myself up to some teasing for being so weepy about a fish. That’s ok. It’s what was on my heart and so I wrote it. Then I decided to go ahead and post it anyway. So here goes.

***

The Good Man often says, “No one cares about the little things” when referring to pets and small animals. At first I thought he was just being overly dramatic, but over the years, I’ve come to realize he might be right.

As a child, my parents were not fans of animals as pets and the care that goes along with having a pet, and so I didn’t have a pet until I was twelve years old. I didn’t learn to own and care for a pet, and how to lose a pet, in my early years.

My first animal was a cat named Yoda and I adored that cat. She died when I was in college and I still remember driving home to my parent’s place in Carlsbad crying my eyes out the whole way. A little girl racing home in a rattletrap car with big, sobbing tears, all over a cat. Yeah, that’s me.

As I moved into my adulthood, I always lived in an apartment and most rental places don’t want you to have a pet. So I didn’t.

The Good Man, on the other hand, has never had a moment in his life where he didn’t have a pet. He’s really good at taking care of animals and reading their moods, and he also has a lot of experience dealing with the loss of beloved pets.

When this handsome man entered my life, he came with baggage in the form of not one but two cats. In the first year of our association, one of the two kittehs (who had a slight attachment to me) passed on and I was crushed with grief. Crushed, dumbfounded and heartbroken. I’d grown to love that orange cat in a very short time and it had been a long time since I’d had a little animal to love.

We still have one kitteh, the rasty Feline, and she’s 14 and cranky and I can’t imagine a day when she’s not balled up behind my knees in the bed while I sleep.

And then there is my fish.

Who can be sentimental about a fish?

Me, that’s who.

For reasons I can’t quite articulate, a few years ago I decided I wanted to have some betta fish. I’d heard they were interactive and smart. I mean, a fish? All water and gills and scales. Interactive?

Turns out it is true. Betta fish are quite interactive and dare I say they have a good sense of humor too.

The downside of owning betta fish is that they have a pretty short life span. Three years is a good run. Some people get as much as five.

Last year, we lost our little girl fish, Margaret and I was saddened. She was the kindest, sweetest, most lovely little being. We joked she was the queen of our home, as she had a regal bearing about her.

Over most of this past year, my boy fish Benito has struggled. He’s sick with some sort of ailment that has caused his kidneys to fail. His abdomen is distended and it’s only a matter of (short) time before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

I look at my little betta and I see him suffering and I’m sad.

“It’s just a fish!” a friend said, when I wanted to talk to her about my sadness.

Yes. Just a fish. But my fish. And he is loved. Watching any being suffer is tough to take.

So every day I talk to my little fish and I coax him to have a few pellets and I worry over him and I change his water a lot and I know the end is near.

I guess as I age I’ve become an old softie. The thing is, I really am sad. I wish I could hug my little fish and make him feel better but I cannot. I can only sit outside his tank and hold my finger up to the glass and he will chase my finger, even when he feels bad, because that’s how we play.

————

All of the above was written about a month ago. I just had to get my thoughts out while I watched my cherished pet suffer.

Tuesday morning in the very small hours, I was up and making breakfast when I noticed my fish struggling. He had a little seizure and then he quietly died.

I can’t believe I had to watch him die, even as I am glad I was there with him.

The Good Man and I talked. I don’t think I want to have any new pets for a while. We’re good with the one rasty cat.

In Spanish, the word benito means blessing. For a few years my little red fish was a happy little blessing in my life.

I’m happy I got to be his human.

Boy oh boy, this losing a pet just doesn’t get any easier.



My beautiful cranky faced fish.



Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right column of this page. Taken with an iPhone4s and the Instagram app.



Ohmmmmmmahgod I Need To Smack A Coworker

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So far this week I’ve been locked up in a conference room with a bunch of coworkers (from another organization) as we “frame up the situation and map out resolution.”

What. Ever.

It seems my little ol’ program is getting some attention, and in the long run it’s a good thing.

In the short run I have a bunch of people who understand squaddily poo about what I do now getting into my shorts and being shouty.

My little program has grown from a sideline that nobody cared about, and actively avoided, to a pretty significant strategic team with big spend. Meaning, I fixed a really BIG problem when no one else gave a rip, and now that it’s under control and earning some positive attention, everyone wants to lift it from me.

All the people I’ve spent two years begging to help me as I fought and threw rocks and banged my head on a brick wall are now harassing me about why I didn’t ask them for help sooner.

“I did!” I shout back, “About three times and your team shot me down every time! So I made my own rules.”

Yesterday afternoon we mixed it up pretty good. You may or may not have noticed this about me from the blog but…I’m a bit of a scrapper. You bring me the fight, I’m not going to back up.

My boss, on the other hand, is a self-described “Non-confrontational Swede”.

He was sitting next to me during the meeting and every now and again would lay a hand on my elbow and murmur “Calm down. It’s ok.”

Kind of hard to fight for my program when my boss would prefer I play nice.

So as I went into the meeting this morning, as a concession to my boss, I brought this with me:





I had little expectations that the warm chamomile would actually work, but the tag on the side of my cup was a good reminder. Stay calm. Go to my happy place. Mudra hands. Higher thinking. Be one with the process. Breathe.

What’s funny is that about an hour into today’s meeting as I stepped back from the fighting and just let it unfold, my Boss finally lost his sh*t. He took it as long as he could and then he let loose on those yahoolios.

When you have someone like a “Non-confrontational Swede” who is usually silent, when he shouts, it’s really something to behold.

I wanted to high five him but held back.

Even as my aggressive American ways sometimes cause my boss consternation, I think he also relies on me to be that person willing to stand up and fight.

In a weird way, his quiet ways and my not-so-quiet ways actually compliment each other pretty well.

Maybe Tazo should make “Smack a Coworker” blend?



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